Los Angeles County will offer free feminine hygiene products and diapers at select facilities under a new pilot program, the Board of Supervisors announced Tuesday.
The program will provide feminine hygiene products, diapers and other personal care items at select county venues such as parks, libraries and museums.
It will also include the “identification of funding and a County department to administer a one-year pilot program, with a future plan for expansion if determined successful (through analysis of data collected),” a news release from motion co-author Supervisor Hilda Solis’s office reads.
The motion directs the county’s Chief Executive Office — partnering with the Department of Parks & Recreation, Department of Public Social Services and libraries, cultural venues and museums — to report back in 60 days on the outcomes of the pilot program.
“Just as we provide toilet paper and soap in public restrooms, we should also provide feminine hygiene products and diapers, so that women’s basic health needs, and the needs of their infants, can be met in our county restrooms,” Supervisor Sheila Kuehl, co-author of the motion, said.
Period poverty, defined as inadequate access to menstrual hygiene tools and education, has a disparate impact and creates an additional financial burden for those who menstruate, the motion states. This includes a lack of access to sanitary products, washing facilities and waste products.
“In recent years, there has been an overdue recognition that hygiene products are costly, and that cost is disproportionately felt by women,” a news release from Supervisor Hilda Solis’s office reads.
With increasing prices such, California lifted the sales tax for children’s diapers and feminine hygiene products for the next two years.
“LA County should use this opportunity to address this structural inequity by providing free feminine hygiene products and diapers at certain facilities where parents and children frequent,” Solid added.
The motion also directs the county’s Chief Executive Office to support federal and state legislation reducing the cost of feminine products and diapers, providing additional federal and state funding to cover the cost of providing these free products to low-income residents, and/ or that would allow government benefits to cover the cost of feminine hygiene products and diapers.
In a 2021 national survey of menstruating teens, 1 in 4 reported struggling to afford period products — up from 1 in 5 in 2019, the motion says. A further 4 in 5 either missed or knew someone who missed class time because they did not have access to period products.
The average woman spends $13.25 per month on period products, the motion says, citing recent studies.
The need for diapers can create similar hardships, authors of the motion said. Diaper manufacturers cited the increase in the price of raw materials, shipping costs and the need to offset inflation as reasons for price increases. Even before the recent round of inflation, low-income families were spending approximately $1,000 a year on diapers, or around 14% of their after-tax income, according to the motion.